11 October 2021
In the past few weeks, Facebook has found itself in the middle of new user privacy and wellbeing-related controversy. An anonymous whistleblower leaked tens of thousands of internal research and documents revealing that Facebook has not only been well aware of its platform's negative and dangerous effects on society but has proactively done very little to control them.
The same anonymous whistleblower has now revealed her identity in an exclusive conversation with 60 Minutes. Her name is Frances Haugen and she is a data scientist from Iowa. She has worked for a number of companies including the likes of Google and Pinterest and most recently Facebook. She joined the social media juggernaut as Product Manager in 2019.
Haugen was assigned to Civic Integrity, a group dedicated to controlling the social network's role in elections. It was dissolved by the company once the elections were over. It is when she decided to not only quit the company but also reveal its secrets to the outside world. She says Facebook deliberately chose its profits over the public good.
She said, “There was conflict... between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook and Facebook chose over and over again to optimize for its own interests — like making more money.”
She further added that while people at Facebook do not necessarily wish evil for the world but they have surely made choices that eventually result in the spread of misinformation and hate speech. As one would expect, Facebook has issued a statement defending itself and mentioning that "protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits."